Chris Bombardier has just made history by becoming the first person with hemophilia ever to scale the seven summits this January.
Bombardier climbed each continent’s highest peak to raise awareness for hemophilia — and to show that with adequate training, medical assistance, preparation and willpower, even someone with a bleeding disorder can take on physically demanding challenges.
The Colorado native, who was diagnosed with hemophilia B at birth, said it has “played a dramatic role in who I am and my life path.”
Bombardier discovered mountain climbing after his uncle pushed him to discover new hobbies and outdoor activities. He was instantly hooked, but the goal to climb the Seven Summits arose only in 2011, after a visit to Kenya.
Bombardier had traveled there to help set up a diagnostic lab at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. While in Kenya, he took on the challenge to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. But then he realized that while having access to medical care and proper treatment gave him the opportunity to climb Africa’s highest peak, local hemophiliacs had little to no access to treatment.
It was not uncommon for hemophiliacs he met in Kenya to not be able to go to school or hold a job because of their blood disorder.
The idea of climbing the Seven Summits began cooking in Bombardier’s mind. Around this time, he met Laurie Kelley, the founder of Save One Life. She started the charity to provide direct financial support to children with bleeding disorders in developing countries.
Bombardier joined Save One Life’s board of directors. Two years later, in 2013, he climbed Argentina’s Mt. Aconcagua and Russia’s Mt. Elbrus. In 2014, he climbed Alaska’s Denali, the highest peak in North America. The following year he traveled to Papua New Guinea, where he climbed the highest peak in Australasia, 16,024-foot Carstensz Pyramid.
Only two peaks remained: Antarctica’s Mt. Vinson and Nepal’s Mt. Everest. Bombardier summited Mt. Everest on May 22, 2017. That gave him permission to scale Mt. Vinson.
“The scope of Antarctica and the feeling of remoteness was so special,” he said in a press release. “I have never been to such a pristine and untouched place. It was awe-inspiring!”
Bombardier is now one of only 450 climbers in history to complete the seven summits — and the only one with hemophilia. In doing so, he helped raise over $90,000 for Save One Life and inspired others to sponsor more than 50 children.
The mountain climber said his project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of sponsors like Octapharma, a manufacturer of blood-clotting products that sponsored his trips to Mt. Everest and Mt. Vinson.
Octapharma is also sponsoring a documentary about Bombardier’s journey, called “Bombardier Blood,” to be released this year. The film is being directed by Patrick James Lynch, who also has severe hemophilia.